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Examining COVID-19 Responses Across Countries

Examining COVID-19 Responses Across Countries

The timing, severity, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has varied substantially across countries as well as across regions within a country. Why are some countries experiencing a higher number of COVID-19 infections and mortalities than other, similar countries? In the absence of a clear and proven medical treatment to treat infections, national and state governments have adopted various nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to contain disease incidence and mortality in varying measures. In our March 2021 article published in Journal of International Marketing, we conceptualize and investigate the comparative efficacy of diverse NPIs that countries could adopt to prevent or curtail the diffusion of the disease incidence and mortality.

Drawing on the regulatory focus theory, we categorize NPIs as prevention focused or promotion focused. Prevention-focused activities include closures (e.g., closure of schools, childcare, and nonessential businesses) and containment policies (e.g., shelter-in-place requirements, limits on private gatherings). Promotion-focused activities include providing additional resources to support public health infrastructure (e.g., meeting higher demand for physicians and hospital beds) and initiating relief efforts (e.g., banning evictions, releasing direct cash payments, running public information campaigns, contact tracing).


We assembled a unique and comprehensive data set on disease incidence and mortality, country characteristics, and NPIs across 70 countries in multiple continents. We gathered information across these countries on the policies perceived to be related to prevention- and promotion-focused NPIs as well as the countries’ susceptibility to COVID-19. We use functional clustering to group countries across diverse geographic, demographic, or economic characteristics with similar patterns of disease incidence and mortality. Countries in Cluster 1 (those with consistently low levels of disease incidence) had the highest levels of both prevention- and promotion-focused NPIs and low levels of susceptibility. In contrast, countries in Cluster 5 (those with high levels of disease incidence from the start of the pandemic) had moderate levels of prevention- and promotion-focused NPIs and susceptibility.

We employ functional regression to investigate the impact of NPIs on disease incidence. On the whole, both prevention-focused closure activities and promotion-focused relief activities were more effective than prevention-focused containment activities in controlling disease incidence. Moreover, the susceptibility toward the disease moderated the impact of NPIs on mortality. Our simulations yield insights into relative efficacy of these NPIs and help policy makers formulate pandemic response strategies to learn across clusters and cocreate appropriate policies. This study recommends policy makers to include a combination of prevention- and promotion-focused interventions to mitigate disease spread and mortality at a country level.

Full Article

Kumar, V., Ashish Sood, Shaphali Gupta, and Nitish Sood (2021), “Prevention- Versus Promotion-Focus Regulatory Efforts on the Disease Incidence and Mortality of COVID-19: A Multinational Diffusion Study Using Functional Data Analysis,” Journal of International Marketing, 29 (1),